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Op-ed Placement

It's Time to Vote on Revised Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act

BY Adam Brandon and Todd Cox
05/24/2016
Originally Published in The Hill by Adam Brandon and Todd Cox on 5/24/16.

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (SRCA) was introduced in the Senate with considerable fanfare last October. But seven months later, it still hasn’t come to the Senate floor for a vote.

Instead, for the past few months, key stakeholders and members of Congress have been discussing and negotiating revisions to this legislation—and for good reason. As much as advocates would like to see the much-needed criminal justice reforms incorporated in the SRCA passed sooner rather than later, it’s just as important to continue to build upon the unprecedented bipartisan support for this reform and ensure passage.

On April 28, lawmakers released a number of revisions to the SRCA aimed at growing support for this legislation on the Hill.

The revisions, which were indeed met with bipartisan support, further focus sentencing changes on those convicted of low-level offenses and prohibit any application of these changes to serious drug or violent offenses. The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) has thrown its support behind the revised SRCA, saying the measure now “strikes the appropriate balance” in that regard. Most recently, during National Police Week, the bill gained endorsements from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Major County Sheriffs' Association (MCSA), two of the most influential law enforcement organizations in the country.

Importantly, this legislation also strengthens drug-addiction rehabilitation and mental health treatment where needed, along with job training and vocational counseling. It also includes several important provisions designed to address the many barriers associated with having a criminal record, including expanding access to record-clearing and sealing or expunging juvenile criminal records under certain circumstances. Preparing people who are incarcerated for re-entry into society is critical if we are to slow the revolving federal prison doors and reduce the recidivism rate. Eliminating unnecessary barriers for those with criminal records and the formerly incarcerated will help them be law-abiding citizens, sparing future victims, saving money and making our communities safer and stronger.